Introducing a constructivist approach to applying programming skills in engineering analysis

Ann F. McKenna*, Jorge Nocedal, Randy Freeman, Stephen H. Carr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


In this paper we describe how we refined our instruction to create a more constructivist classroom setting for learning programming skills as applied to engineering analysis. In the context of our course, programming skills are important to help students develop engineering "habits of mind" such as how to break a large complex problem into manageable parts, how to isolate effects, test, and debug problems. The paper presents the rationale for refining the instruction, the method for collecting data on the impact of the changes, and results from our data collection. Results indicate that the new instructional format is effective in helping novice students understand Matlab to solve engineering analysis problems. Furthermore, student feedback indicates that the instructional setting modeled the central features of a constructivist learning environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - Frontiers in Education, 35th Annual Conference
Subtitle of host publicationPedagogies and Technologies for the Emerging Global Economy, FIE'05
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
EventFrontiers in Education - 35th Annual Conference 2005, FIE' 05 - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Oct 19 2005Oct 22 2005

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


OtherFrontiers in Education - 35th Annual Conference 2005, FIE' 05
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityIndianapolis, IN


  • Constructivist learning environment
  • Engineering analysis
  • Instructional frameworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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